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Res Gestae Divi Augusti


Temple of Augustus in Ancyra (modern Ankara). Photo Marco Prins.
Temple of Augustus and Roma in Ankara
The Res Gestae Divi Augusti ("the achievements of the deified Augustus") are the official autobiography of Augustus, the man who had renovated the Roman Empire during his long reign from 31 BCE to 14 CE. The text tells us how he wanted to be remembered. It is best summarized in the full title: "the achievements of the deified Augustus by which he placed the whole world under the sovereignty of the Roman people, and of the amounts which he expended upon the state and the Roman people". In other words - it is propaganda.

The text, which was inscribed on two columns near the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, has survived as an inscription in the temple of Roma and Augustus in modern Ankara (ancient Ancyra; satellite photo). The text, which was first published by the famous botanist Charles de l' Écluse (or Clusius; 1526-1609), is not complete, but there are other copies (from Antioch and Apollonia in Pisidia); the first scholar to combine them and publish a scientific edition was Theodor Mommsen (1883²).


The translation offered here, made by F.W. Shipley, was copied from LacusCurtius, where you can also find the Greek and Latin text.
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Below is a copy of the acts of the Deified Augustus by which he placed the whole world under the sovereignty of the Roman people, and of the amounts which he expended upon the state and the Roman people, as engraved upon two bronze columns which have been set up in Rome.

[1]
[44 BCE] At the age of nineteen, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army by means of which I restored liberty to the republic, which had been oppressed by the tyranny of a faction. For which service the senate, with complimentary resolutions, enrolled me in its order, [43 BCE] in the consulship of Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, giving me at the same time consular precedence in voting; it also gave me the imperium. As propraetor it ordered me, along with the consuls, "to see that the republic suffered no harm."   In the same year, moreover, as both consuls had fallen in war, the people elected me consul and a triumvir for settling the constitution.

[2] Those who slew my father I drove into exile, punishing their deed by due process of law, and afterwards when they waged war upon the republic [42 BCE] I twice defeated them in battle [at Philippi].


[3] Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon. The foreign nations which could with safety be pardoned I preferred to save rather than to destroy. The number of Roman citizens who bound themselves to me by military oath was about 500,000. Of these I settled in colonies or sent back into their own towns, after their term of service, something more than 300,000, and to all I assigned lands, or gave money as a reward for military service. I captured six hundred ships, over and above those which were smaller than triremes.

Bust of Augustus. Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida (Spain). Photo Marco Prins.
Bust of Augustus (Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida)
[4] Twice I triumphed with an ovation, thrice I celebrated curule triumphs, and was saluted as imperator twenty-one times. Although the Senate decreed me additional triumphs I set them aside. When I had performed the vows which I had undertaken in each war I deposited upon the Capitol the laurels which adorned my fasces. For successful operations on land and sea, conducted either by myself or by my lieutenants under my auspices, the senate on fifty-five occasions decreed that thanks should be rendered to the immortal gods. The days on which such thanks were rendered by decree of the senate numbered 890. In my triumphs there were led before my chariot nine kings or children of kings. At the time of writing these words [14 CE] I had been thirteen times consul, and was in the thirty-seventh year of my tribunician power.

[5] The dictatorship offered me by the people and the Roman Senate, in my absence and later when present, in the consulship of Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius [22 BCE] I did not accept. I did not decline at a time of the greatest scarcity of grain the charge of the grain-supply, which I so administered that, within a few days, I freed the entire people, at my own expense, from the fear and danger in which they were. The consulship, either yearly or for life, then offered me I did not accept.

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Page by Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2007
Revision: 18 February 2007
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